Is Hirsutism Hereditary?
Women affected by hirsutism often struggle with male pattern hair growth and acne. While there are no definite numbers, experts estimate that around 5-10% of pre-menopausal women are affected. Hirsutism is usually caused by a hormonal imbalance, that causes an excess of male hormones in the female system. This imbalance can have a number of different root causes.
Hirsutism can be genetic. If a woman is diagnosed with the condition, there is a high likelihood her sister or mother will show hirsutism symptoms as well. There are also certain regions, in which hirsutism is more wide-spread. Those include the Mediterranean area, the Middle East and South Asia.
Emilio Moncada Lorenzo’s Familial Study of Hirsutism
In November 1970 Emilia Moncada Lorenzo published his Familial Study of Hirsutism in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, in which he found an increased prevalence of hirsutism among female relatives.
For this research Lorenzo studied a group of 300 women (90 women aged 15-45 diagnosed with hirsutism and their first-degree relatives) based on a simplified version of the Ferriman-Gallway score. Participants were placed in 3 categories (ovarian, adrenal, idiopathic hirsutism) and assessed based on only 5 body regions (upper lip, chin, chest, abdomen, thighs) following the usual four-point scale. A score over 5 was recorded for most cases studied. The participating relatives of the women diagnosed with hirsutism underwent a partial medical test and were checked for excess hair growth in the facial area as well. Lorenzo found an increased prevalence among female relatives as well as acne and balding among male relatives. He concluded that his results set the basis for a genetic etiology, a multifactorial pattern of inheritance being a plausible one. He also observed a correlation between endocrine dysfunction in hirsute women.